EDITOR’S NOTE: “Justice looks like …” is a special series in the Voices column. Readers will have the opportunity to consider justice from numerous viewpoints. The series is based on each writer’s understanding of Scripture and relationship with Jesus Christ. Writers present their own views independent of any institution, unless otherwise noted in their bios.
You are encouraged to listen to each writer without prejudgment. Then, engage in conversation with others around you about what justice looks like to you.
Micah 6:8 challenges us to do justice. What does that look like?
Justice looks like my dad explaining how I will have to endure the consequences of my actions. He spent several years in law enforcement and had a real knack for catching me at misbehavior. He worked hard to make my consequences “memorable.”
He also wanted me to know there would be different consequences when I broke different house rules. Not all rules were the same. He wanted me to know he would be fair with me and that I someday would have to help my own children understand there were consequences and/or rewards for actions and decisions made. This was my introduction to justice.
Rules for the household
Justice was a set of rules that applied to all in the household. Following the rules resulted in all kinds of fun and joyful experiences. Breaking the rules was entirely different and “memorable.”
After a short while, a little brother joined the family. The day came when I learned another facet of justice. I forgot to take care of my brother in the manner I was taught. I did not look after his safety needs or his welfare. He could not look after himself. He could not even feed himself. I got in trouble for not looking after him.
Through this experience with my brother, my parents taught me the importance of looking after those who literally were not able to look after themselves. In his case, he was just too young, but the point remains the same. There would be situations in life when it would be important for me to look after the needs and rights of others for the sake of justice and fairness.
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Justice looks like caring for others. Justice involves me being aware when the needs of others are not being met and that I should do good by working to help others.
A lesson in fairness
One day, I was told how my dad would not get a promotion at work because of his ethnicity. This was the day I learned about fairness and just opportunities for all. He did not have fair opportunity to earn an income. He would train his future supervisor and was passed over for a promotion. The lack of justice and a fair opportunity impacted our entire family.
Dad received a call from California. Mr. Rocky Fuertez said his employer was interested in results and not the complexion of someone’s skin. So, off to California we went. We left all family, friends and church ties behind for dad’s opportunity to provide for his family.
I recognized this was not fair; it was not just. However, we learned to appreciate employers who would give all persons an opportunity for success dependent only upon results.
The family table-talk included the importance of respecting people who looked different than us and the importance of working to give everyone an opportunity to succeed.
Justice looks like Jesus
While going to an English-speaking Baptist church in Rialto, Calif., Pastor Leonard Roten taught us about a biblical perspective toward justice and how God did not give us what we deserve for our sins.
Pastor Roten, along with church leaders like Sam Edwards, Doug Mitchell and my parents, introduced me to God’s grace and mercy. They helped me understand Jesus paid the ultimate price for my sins, helping me when I could not help myself. I was moved by these biblical ideas and dedicated myself to learn more about God’s justice and salvation by faith in Jesus.
How thankful I am justice looks like Jesus paying for my sins and giving me salvation.
God’s justice looks like the Scripture stating, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” and that he reconciled me to himself through his Son Jesus. I am so thankful God stepped in and provided a solution for my sin.
This picture of justice calls me to step in and seek solutions for those experiencing injustice, so no one has to move across the country to find equal opportunity. It calls me to be on the lookout for gaps in fairness for those who need help and aren’t able to help themselves. It calls on me to act for the benefit of others. This is what justice looks like to me.
Dr. Gus Reyes serves as the director of the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission and Center for Cultural Engagement. He works with both sides of the aisle to promote the Jesus Agenda. He has been married to Leticia Lozano Reyes more than 42 years, and they are blessed with grandchildren.
Click here to read the full “Justice looks like…” series.